Arusha, February 19, 2004 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the “Military I” trial on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that military officials said they would kill RPF accomplices before attacking the enemy who was the RPF. The witness, code-named “DN” to conceal his identity, told the court during examination in chief that Major Ntabakuze, one of the accused, was present when the commander of the Reconnaisance Battalion, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye said that “he knew that the enemy was the RPF but he had to exterminate their acomplices first”.

1 min 59Approximate reading time

Ntabakuze is jointly charged with the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former head of operations in the former Rwandan army, Brigadier General Gratien Kabiligi,and the former military commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. They are mostly charged with Conspiracy to Commit Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. All have pleaded not guilty. Major Nzowonemeye is also detained by the ICTR and one of the accused in the Military II trial which is scheduled to begin in September, 2004. He is accused together with the former chief-of-staff of the FAR, General Augustin Bizimungu, and a fellow commanding officer in the reconnaissance battalion, captain Innocent Sagahutu. DN, the 45th prosecution witness, also told the court that he witnessed the training of Interahamwe at Mukamira camp (Ruhengeri prefecture, northern Rwanda). He added that he also learnt that “conseillers” were also trained there. “I met a lady who was a ‘conseiller' on my way to Gisenyi and she was being trained at the camp,” he said. During cross-examination by Bagosora's lead counsel, Raphael Constant (France), DN was asked whether “colleagues told you that people were dying, and that there were instructions by Nzuwonemeye to go and kills tutsis?” DN replied that the major gave orders to members of the reconnaissance battalion to kill, after explaining to them that he had learnt that the presidential jet had been shot down. The witness was also challenged by Nsengiyumva's counsel, Ottachi Bw'Omanwa (Kenya), regarding his absence at the Mukamira camp, saying that he could not have witnessed any training. DN replied that he was not always at the camp but that everybody knew the training took place within the camp. The witness showed a number of times during cross examination that his knowledge of Mukamira camp was limited. “I do not know the number of buildings that were in the camp because I had no time to go round,” he once answered. He also said he had been in the camp as a soldier for four months. DN also informed the court that he could not recall his unit nor the name of any other senior officer apart from Nzuwonemeye. The witness, who testified in chief that he saw buses dropping off trainees into the camp, said during cross-examination that he did not know where trainees were accommodated in the camp. The Military I trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, presided over by Judge Erik Møse of Norway, assisted by Judge SergueiAleckseievich Egorov of Russia and Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. SV/CE/FH (ML'0219e)